Police ethics is a branch of applied normative ethics. The most well known branches of applied ethics are medical and business ethics. The link between ‘theory’ and ‘practice’ is what makes applied ethics different from philosophical ethics. Applied ethics is the field that holds ethical theory accountable to practice and professional practice accountable to theory. Therefore, the philosophers should not dictate to professionals the norms that are supposed to govern their professional practice, without a very thorough knowledge of that practice. On the other hand, the professionals have to understand that their experience and intuition are insufficient for defensible judgment, and that all their constraints do not exempt their decisions from ethical scrutiny (Newton, 2003). She believes that if ethics is about human beings, we should be able to determine the structure of our moral obligations from three basic, simple, readily observable facts about human beings:
- People are embodied. They exist in time and space and are subject to physical laws. They have needs that must be satisfied if they are to survive. They must control the physical environment to satisfy those needs. Failure to do so leads to pain and suffering. The implication for ethics is that the relief of that suffering and the satisfaction of those needs should be out first concern, giving rise to duties of compassion, and beneficence.
- People are social. Whatever problems they have with their physical environment, they have to solve them in-groups, which creates a new set of problems. They must cope with a social environment as well as the physical one. The social environment produces two further needs: for a social structure to coordinate social efforts, and for means of communication. The implication for ethics is that we must take account of each other in all our actions. We have obligations to the group in general and to other members of the group of...